by J.D. Heyes
Fortunately, there is a medicine-free way in which you can reduce a significant portion of that stress, all from the comfort of your own kitchen and dining room. Here are six excellent, healthy foods that can help you lower your stress levels naturally:
Grab a couple handfuls of almonds daily. Almonds, and other nuts, are so good for so many different reasons – among them; their ability to reduce your stress level.
“Nuts are loaded with vitamin E, which boosts immunity,” says Health and Living. “A healthy immune system means you’re less likely to fall victim to that cold that’s making its way around the office, and a healthier you means a less stressed you, too.”
According to Anna Magee and nutritional therapist Charlotte Watts, authors of the book The De-Stress Diet, “Nuts are crammed with B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and omega oils, nutrients that are depleted when anxiety is high. As a source of healthy fats, nuts have also been shown to curb appetite, naturally balance blood sugar levels, reduce sugar cravings, and support the metabolism.”
Use caution; however, in terms of the amount of almonds and other nuts you consume, writes Lisa Collier Cool for Yahoo! Health.
There’s no fish like oily fish. Fish like salmon, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, is the perfect dinner de-stress option. “Omega-3s have been shown to boost mood and brain function, and can aid significantly in dealing with anxiety and depression,” Health and Living says.
“A 2011 study from Ohio State showed a 20 percent reduction in anxiety among medical school students who took omega-3 supplements,” Cool notes. “The researchers made this surprising discovery during research to test their theory that omega-3s would lower stress-induced levels of cytokines, compounds that promote inflammation in the body, which can lead to illness and heart attack.”
Oily fish also contain a host of vitamins and minerals – B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium – “that help reduce sugar-addiction cycles and counteract the damaging effects of stress on the body,” says Dina Spector of BusinessInsider.com.
Oh, yes – chocolate. Not that the other foods aren’t good (and good for you), but seriously, who can resist a little chocolate?
Few of us can but that’s all right because a little chocolate goes a long way towards reducing our stress levels.
“Too much indulgence is likely to keep you from your weight-loss goals, but a small portion of chocolate as a pick-me-up isn’t such a bad idea,” Health and Living says. “This sweet treat helps to boost serotonin levels, which plays a key role in dealing with stress. In a study conducted by Duke Medical Center, researchers found that lower levels of serotonin actually cause a more extreme reaction when the body encounters stress.”
How much is just enough?
“Research has shown that 40g of dark chocolate a day can help us cope with stress by releasing ‘happy chemicals’ known as beta endorphins in the brain,” says Spector. “When it comes to a treat, dark chocolate can be a good snack choice to stave off cravings for less healthy choices, while providing a much-needed energy boost without the agitating effects of caffeine.”
From chocolate to… spinach. Well, Popeye knew a little something about nutrition after all.
“Spinach and other dark leafy greens like Swiss chard and kale are loaded with magnesium, which has been credited as a major stress fighter, helping to relax muscle fibers and put you at ease,” says Health and Living.
“There’s no such thing as a chill pill, but some foods contain body-boosting nutrients that help soothe stressed-out nerves,” adds Whole Living, noting that green leafy foods contain folic acid, which helps “make dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.”
Oranges – for sunshine in your life. Oranges, along with Brussels sprouts, broccoli, red and green peppers and strawberries contain lots of vitamin C, which “boosts your immune system and fights brain-cell damage resulting from constant exposure to cortisol,” says Whole Living.
“Stress makes our body release even more free radicals than when we are in good mood. Interestingly, vitamin C helps to keep the free radicals in control, and repairs the body. Basically, it helps protect the body from the cumulative effects of stress,” adds Dr. Lee Dobbins, a physician who specializes in weight loss-related issues.